How scale-out infrastructure solves secondary storage headaches
Jul 3rd, 2018

By Wael Mustafa, Area Vice President for MESAT at Commvault

Within most organisations, data continues to grow exponentially, as new sources of data (such as sensor and machine data) start to outstrip the growth of traditional business data.  These days, most companies fear discarding any data – thinking that it may be useful at some stage in the future.

As data growth swells, secondary storage utilisation, used for backup and availability, which generally equates to 70% of total data held in an organisation becomes increasingly critical

Previous-generation scale-up approaches to data management tended to rely on infrequent ‘big bang’ updates, with the entire organisation’s data assets being migrated to a new environment. It also often requires a degree of complex re-architecting of important recovery systems.

Scale-up storage means adding more hard drives to a unit until a physical limit is reached. At this point, either the entire device is replaced with a new one with greater capacity, or a new device must be brought in and run in parallel with the original. Impacts on the related compute and networking would also be a consideration.

Neither of these are ideal solutions – burdening organisations with high capex costs every few years, while demanding very careful planning and provisioning of storage and compute resources.

In short, the scale-up approach just doesn’t work in the modern era. Data is not only growing exponentially, but it’s also growing unevenly and very unpredictably. It’s simply not possible for many organisations to accurately gauge just what their storage needs may be in three years’ time.

Peak performance

In contrast to this, a scale-out approach features multiple node configurations within the secondary, backup and DR storage environment. IT teams can simply add in additional nodes that enable the single body of storage (known as a storage pool) to grow organically and seamlessly.

This ensures there is no disruption to business, no need for major ‘forklift’ system replacements and lower costs to manage your ever-growing data repositories. Added to this, it enables far easier integration and replication into public Cloud environments.

It’s no wonder that the scale-out approach has already earned its stripes in the primary storage arena.

With scale-out recovery systems, organisations ensure that performance is never degraded, as every time one adds new storage capacity, the associated compute resources are bolstered in parallel. In this way, processing is never constrained, and the organisation can stay available, and access and leverage their secondary data in the way that they need.

Businesses don’t need to worry about over or under-investing in their storage and performance capacities. As new storage, backup and DR demands emerge, it’s as simple as adding new nodes to the pool.

Enabler of the future

Gartner predicts that by 2021, over 80% of enterprise data will be stored in scale-out storage systems in enterprise and cloud data centres (a huge leap from today’s figure of 30%).

This shift towards scale-out infrastructure is driven largely by the need to ensure optimal performance, to rule-out any form of business disruption, and to reduce large capex-based costs wherever possible.

You need to be able to monitor capacity and performance on a regular basis.

Added to this, Commvault research shows that 66% of IT professionals believe that escalating complexity in the IT estate makes it more difficult to do their jobs, to become a true strategic partner and enabler to their business.

Yet with scale-out, operational complexity is abstracted away, as teams only need to monitor capacity and performance via the pre-built tools of scale-out providers. They’re able to spend almost all their energy on helping the business to gain maximum value from the data.

Scale-out storage sits alongside other key IT strategies – such as moving to hyper-converged infrastructure, to Cloud environments, embracing advanced machine learning and analytics tools, and exploring software-defined data centres.

When pulled together as part of this broader modernisation plan, scale-out storage, backup and DR are critical aspects of readying the enterprise for new digital business models and disruptive strategies within their respective industries.

*Gartner Magic Quadrant for Distributed File Systems and Object Storage, October 2016 | Commvault Press Office.